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Philosophical Perspectives on the Self

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Edited By Joao Fonseca and Jorge Goncalves

For the last decade the topic of the Self has been under intense scrutiny from researchers of various areas spanning from philosophy, neurosciences, and psychology to anthropology and sociology. The present volume addresses the Self under different and influent philosophical perspectives: from phenomenology and psychoanalysis to metaphysics and neurophilosophy and discusses several and distinct problems such as personal identity, the core/narrative self-distinction, psychopathologies, the mind-body problem and the nature of the relations between self, consciousness and emotions. The book reflects these different philosophical problems and approaches and aims to provide a map of current philosophical perspectives on the topic of the Self.
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Core Self and the Illusion of the Self

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Core Self and the Problem of the Self

JORGE GONÇALVES1

The concepts of consciousness and self have been central in contemporary philosophy of the mind. Inevitably, this has led to the recuperation of a few conceptions from classical Phenomenology, starting with Husserl. This is the case with the concept of “pre-reflective self-consciousness”. The approach of these philosophers (Zahavi, 2007; Gallagher, 2007; Parnas, 2010) is not existential, but what could be called “biological” in the sense that they considered consciousness and self as natural phenomena, explained scientifically. One of the problems that these philosophers intended to resolve is the renowned problem of the self that was initially formulated by David Hume and more recently by Metzinger, among others. In this lecture, I intend to argue, using the facts regarding the origin of the self in the early stages of life as a foundation for the argument, that the concept of pre-reflective self-consciousness does not resolve this problem. In spite of the facts not being conclusive, I will affirm that there is good reason to reject the idea that the entire form of phenomenal consciousness assumes a feeling, no matter how little, of self.

According to these authors, all consciousness is simultaneously self-consciousness. For example, when I look at a landscape, in the moment I am looking there is always a feeling that it is I who is looking. This feeling could be reflective, when I carry out an introspection of my mental states with...

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